Date: May 16th to 21st 2005
Distance : 70 miles
Weather : Sun and Showers. Wind S to W, 10 to 24 knots.
We drove to Linköping on Monday (a 120 mile round trip) to find a reasonable supermarket(!), and whilst there visited Gamla Linköping, a sort of old Swedish theme park. Apparently Swedes queue up to live in these old, rather shabby brown houses/huts, with hordes of visitors tramping round your garden. The place is obviously seriously geared up for visitors, judging by the size of the car park. The place does however host a interesting wood workshop which has some excellent, and rather different carvings.
Finally, on Tuesday, we set off, some 25 miles up the coast to a small Nature Harbour for the night. We picked this one as we knew there was a wooden stage we could moor to, but when we arrived, the breeze was blowing strongly and after a couple of attempts mooring cross wind, we gave up. We then tried to pick a suitable rock, but the wind wasn't cooperating and the only wind shadows (the places the Swedes look for) were out of reach due to our depth. We really should have tried somewhere else, but after (I'm told) an hour and a half, we managed to get tied up to something.
In the morning we found one of the ropes holding us to the shore had come adrift, the wind had gone round 180 degrees and we were now settled some way off the shore, with the BBQ still marooned on its rock. We gave up and anchored in the bay for an hour. (We have a bower CQR anchor which is conspicuously useless. It wont grip anything. The spade that came with the boat, and we use as a stern anchor, is much better and infinitely more reliable.
Although the sun is warm, there is a serious wind chill in the air, and showers, when they come, often contain hail, so the posh Mustos are earning their keep at last.
To say the area is deserted is an understatement. We saw four yachts all week (two Swedes, and two (single handed) Germans), in a hundred or so miles of coastline. There is an abundance of wildlife, with Swans, Ducks, Geese etc, and we saw at least two Eagles. One Swan had made a nest just by the pontoon in Loftahammar. She has to sit on the thing all day, but we noticed he buggered off for most of the day (no pacing up and down with a fag then). A little further away, some Coots had their nest, and just before we left, their eggs hatched, with about 10 little coots running around, the size of matchboxes.
We decided that, the area being so crowded, now would be a good time to go and see the famous Harstena. It always surprises me that, despite being a 'top' destination, there is no marked route out to the island, and (for Brits) you take your life in your hands sailing 'off piste'. The entrance turned out to be confusing (we missed it the first time) with shallow patches and rocks but once in you are in a land locked pool. Once again the wind conspired to rob us of decent rocks to tie up to, and even a Swede who came in later anchored off for the night. Frankly, its a nice little pool, and I guess the settlement has some charm, but I'm not sure what all the fuss is about.
We had a good sail (6 knots under jib alone) up through the rest of the Southern Archipelago to Arko, but we arrived with it blowing 23 knots. Thus ensued another bit of a mooring mare and at this point I consigned the posh Bosko boathook (another £100) overboard. We really must get the hang of this stuff.
Finally, we made it to a deserted Nyköping (another blowy entrance) for some electricity, some shopping and a decent meal. We thoroughly recommend Nyköpings Rökeri where the food is excellent and the prices (even the wine) reasonable.
The marina was so empty, the harbourmaster had hired out the facilities to a bunch of women having a pampering night. This included outside hot-tubs (an odd sight, a bunch of half-naked women sitting in a tub with a wind chill of minus something horrible. Sorry, guys, but no photos. No photos either of the nude bather we encountered at Arko. The water temperature is currently 10 degrees....